Numerical Instability of the Akhmediev Breather and a Finite-Gap Model of It

  • P. G. Grinevich
  • P. M. SantiniEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Springer Proceedings in Mathematics & Statistics book series (PROMS, volume 273)


The focusing Nonlinear Schrödinger (NLS) equation is the simplest universal model describing the modulation instability (MI) of quasi monochromatic waves in weakly nonlinear media, considered the main physical mechanism for the appearance of rogue (anomalous) waves (RWs) in Nature. In this paper we study the numerical instabilities of the Akhmediev breather, the simplest space periodic, one-mode perturbation of the unstable background, limiting our considerations to the simplest case of one unstable mode. In agreement with recent theoretical findings of the authors, in the situation in which the round-off errors are negligible with respect to the perturbations due to the discrete scheme used in the numerical experiments, the split-step Fourier method (SSFM), the numerical output is well-described by a suitable genus 2 finite-gap solution of NLS. This solution can be written in terms of different elementary functions in different time regions and, ultimately, it shows an exact recurrence of rogue waves described, at each appearance, by the Akhmediev breather. We discover a remarkable empirical formula connecting the recurrence time with the number of time steps used in the SSFM and, via our recent theoretical findings, we establish that the SSFM opens up a vertical unstable gap whose length can be computed with high accuracy, and is proportional to the inverse of the square of the number of time steps used in the SSFM. This neat picture essentially changes when the round-off error is sufficiently large. Indeed experiments in standard double precision show serious instabilities in both the periods and phases of the recurrence. In contrast with it, as predicted by the theory, replacing the exact Akhmediev Cauchy datum by its first harmonic approximation, we only slightly modify the numerical output. Let us also remark, that the first rogue wave appearance is completely stable in all experiments and is in perfect agreement with the Akhmediev formula and with the theoretical prediction in terms of the Cauchy data.


Akhmediev breather Rogue waves Split-step Fourier method 



Two visits of P. G. Grinevich to Roma were supported by the University of Roma “La Sapienza”, and by the INFN, Sezione di Roma. P. G. Grinevich and P. M. Santini acknowledge the warm hospitality and the local support of CIC, Cuernavaca, Mexico, in December 2016. P.G. Grinevich was also partially supported by RFBR grant 17-51-150001. We acknowledge useful discussions with F. Briscese, F. Calogero, C. Conti, E. DelRe, A. Degasperis, A. Gelash, I. Krichever, A. Its, S. Lombardo, A. Mikhailov, D. Pierangeli, M. Sommacal and V. Zakharov.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.L.D. Landau Institute for Theoretical PhysicsChernogolovkaRussia
  2. 2.Faculty of Mechanics and MathematicsLomonosov Moscow State UniversityMoscowRussia
  3. 3.Moscow Institute of Physics and TechnologyMoscow RegionRussia
  4. 4.Dipartimento di FisicaUniversità di Roma “La Sapienza”, and Istituto Nazionale di Fisica NucleareRomaItaly

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